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East Bay campaign cash flows

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Friday, August 3rd, 2007 at 4:23 pm in Election 2008.

This week’s campaign finance filing deadline for state and local candidates demonstrate unusually early activity as folks accumulate the warchests they need to compete in the June 2008 primary election.

Some of the biggest numbers surfaced in the hyper-congested Assembly District 15 campaign where two of its 10 candidates wrote whopping personal checks to boost their campaigns.

Retired car dealership magnate and Republican Robert Rao of Livermore has given his campaign $208,060 through June 30 and he says he will write as many checks as it takes to achieve success. He has hired a fundraiser but he rejects what he considers a failed political system in which a successful candidate must spend years cultivating friends that reliably contribute to campaigns.

“I don’t have time or the desire to climb a political ladder, and I don’t see any merit in it,” Rao said. “Look at where that current thinking has gotten us.”

The surprise winner in the fundraising race is Republican Livermore optometrist Scott Kamena, who reported $236,617 in the bank as of June 30. And he did it without writing himself any checks.

It will be interesting to see if Kamena can keep up the pace. Some suggest that he has peaked, given the fact that he started raising money last August and relied on contributions from optometrists around the state eager to have to one of their own in public office.

Republican activist and businesswoman Judy Biviano Lloyd of Dublin posted respectable numbers, too. She has since January raised $153,781 and still had most of it in the bank. She also says she raised most of this money herself and hasn’t hired a professional fund-raiser.

San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson is substantially behind his GOP primary colleagues. He’s only raised $18,474 and had to loan his campaign $95,000. He blames his simultaneous mayoral re-election campaign; the mayor’s election is in November while the Assembly primary is in June 2008.

The fifth Republican, Alamo assessor Joe Rubay, entered the race after the June 30 cut-off date for the financial reporting, so we won’t see his figures until the next reporting period.

The Democratic candidates, on the other hand, posted dismal numbers although they are probably more typical of fundraising results a year away from an election. The Republicans have been especially aggressive as they flex their fiscal muscles in the hopes of scaring off their competitors.

Fred Klaske, a Castro Valley entrepreneur who is planning to move into the district, posted the best results at $38,295 in contributions since June 30. But he has also spent quite a bit of it, reporting just $12,547 on hand.

Steve Filson, a health insurance agent and a former airline pilot from Danville, reported the second-highest figure at $35,345 as of June 30 and he still has most of the money.

Steve Thomas, a Danville electrician, raised $1,125 but he spent most of it, leaving himself with $128 in the bank.

Livermore school principal Chris Van Schaack has withdrawn from the race. He had raised $28,892 since January, funds he must now return or use to pay off any campaign debts.

Campaign finance filings for Davies Ononiwu of Elk Grove were not immediately available.

The final Democratic candidate, San Ramon Valley School District Trustee Joan Buchanan, didn’t enter the race until after the June 30 cut-off date.

In other campaign finance reports:

– Senate District 7 candidate Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg has $409,830 on hand, twice as much as his opponent, Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who posted $209,396 on hand in his three campaign accounts. But that gap won’t last. DeSaulnier has no trouble raising money.

Tony Thurmond, Richmond councilman and the sole declared Assembly District 14 candidate, has raised an underwhelming $37,784. But it’s early and this field will grow.

– Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette has no challengers and her warchest of $105,438 should help her keep it what way.

– Even the unopposed need moola. Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf has $64,868 in his account even after he spent $7,291 on a re-election reception at Scott’s Seafood. Treasurer Bill Pollacek has a nice little nest egg worth $28,282. Or not. Assessor Gus Kramer reports $98 in his account.

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